Looking back, H&M group has been working with these issues since the ‘70s, our methods and way of working constantly evolving towards our ambition to become a 100% Fair and Equal company. Just like many other brands, we don’t own the factories — instead, we collaborate with around 800 suppliers, representing 1800 factories that also produce for other brands.
Securing good working conditions
We are careful when entering new partnerships and committed to choosing partners who share our respect for people as well as the environment, and who are willing to work with us to improve their practices. Our employees in our production offices work directly with our business partners to form good relations, assess their performance against our Sustainability Commitment, and support them in making improvements through different programs and activities. Not only do they have tight relationships with our business partners, but also with non-governmental organisations, experts, stakeholders and local governments, meaning they have insight in the challenges and understands how to drive improvements in a local context. Once we are in a partnership we work together with the supplier to improve their sustainability performance through training and capacity building, but also by rewarding the suppliers who perform well by ordering larger quantities of products.
The Sustainability Commitment
What started as the Code of Conduct in 1997, has since evolved and developed into a part of a larger initiative: The Sustainability Commitment, finalised in 2016. The commitment outlines our requirements when it comes to Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Ecosystems and Animal Welfare, but also how we can work together to improve sustainability in our value chain. Before engaging with a business partner, we conduct assessments all partners must pass in order to work with us. These requirements are fundamental. But there’s also an aspirational level of performance added to the commitment, the ambition is that this will encourage our partners to strive for results that top our requirements. All our business partners, in any part of our value chain, need to follow this commitment, so that we have a shared vision and common expectations for sustainability going forward.
Our Sustainability Commitment is valid for all brands within the H&M group and covers much more than just working conditions — you can always have a closer look at it for all the details. In the section on Healthy Workplaces, you’ll find where we stand regarding:
- Health and safety
- Discrimination, diversity and equal rights
- Recognised employment
- Fair living wage and benefits
- Working hours
- Freedom of association and collective bargaining
- Child labour and young workers
- Forced, bonded, prison and illegal labour
Good relations are great for business
But, we don’t assess our business partners just because we want to keep an eye on them — it’s also a great (and successful!) way to constantly improve, collaborate and push ourselves to become a better company. We see that when these requirements are fulfilled, both fundamental and aspirational, it’s also beneficial for the suppliers since the workers become more engaged in their work and tend to stay longer with the company.
Some of the topics mentioned above, like fair living wages, freedom of association and collective bargaining you can read more about here. And in the Fair & Equal chapter in our Sustainability Report, you’ll find more information regarding our vision to become 100% Fair & Equal.